Miro Heiskanen, the best prospect in the Dallas Stars system, is an untouchable asset if the latest rumors about the return for elite offensive defenseman Erik Karlsson is any indication:
Stars not willing to include Heiskanen in a trade is shaping up as potential deal breaker. Dorion apparently sticking to his guns.— Chris Stevenson (@CJ_Stevenson) July 5, 2018
Some Stars fans will look at this news and applaud general manager Jim Nill for trying to keep a player that is projected to be as good as the likes of Victor Hedman and has drawn heady comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom (though that kind of expectation should be tampered down for any player not named Nicklas Lidstrom.)
Others will say that if Heiskanen is the price to acquire Karlsson then you pay it because the window of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and John Klingberg’s prime years is getting tighter. The addition of Karlsson would surely elevate Dallas into the discussions of Cup favorites because they would have a lot of fire power from both ends of the ice in their lineup.
It seems the latest rumors now peg the favorite team to land Karlsson is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If the Ottawa Senators are looking to have a first round pick as part of the trade package, Dallas can offer that whereas Tampa cannot - their first round pick is tied up in the Ryan McDonaugh trade with the New York Rangers. Both teams have defensive prospects that Ottawa would find appealing, but all reports seem to indicate that neither is willing to part with their top one at this time.
It’s a game of chicken to see if either Steve Yzerman or Jim Nill blinks first. The winner gets Karlsson and parts with their top guy in their system. It’s a pay-to-play kind of world.
If the Lightning acquire Karlsson, Yzerman is going to have to complete some salary cap gymnastics. (Dallas could fit him into the cap with minimal moves at this time with $10.67 million in space and three RFAs still to sign - Mattias Janmark, Gemel Smith, and Devin Shore.)
Tampa acquiring the Swedish defensman would likely make available a few interesting forwards on the trade market that Dallas could target to add to their top six as the Lightning may need to shed additional salary to be cap compliant, depending on the pieces involved for them.
Losing out on Karlsson wouldn’t end the Stars’ ability to upgrade their roster. Whether it’s a Lightning forward or a winger like Artemi Panarin, there could be options in the trade market that would be more palatable to the Stars in terms of what assets they would part ways with to improve for the coming season.